Sunday, 8 November 2015

Chile Day 1

Ola! from Chile,

for a change, I have travelled over two days which have been strike free, all very pleasant.

I am here in Chile on the invitation of Dr Alexander Neaman, I've never been to Chile and it's always nice to be asked so here I am. I flew out via Madrid yesterday and arrived this morning. I was met at the airport by Jose Verdejo - he is a very cheerful and friendly sort. I fear the photo doesn't do him justice!

Jose dropped me at the hotel in Vina del Mar and will pick me up tomorrow to take me on to Quillota where Alexander and his team are based in the School of Agronomy, Catholic University of Valparaiso. A bizarre (at least from a UK perspective) thing is the way the trip is funded by the Chilean funding authority. I have to pay the hotel costs but rather than claiming the money back from Fondecyt, the Chilean research funder, I'm given a per diem to spend. Given that £1 is currently worth about 1000 Chilean Pesos this makes things look rather grand - it reminds me of when we did Turkish field work back when I was a postgrad. and we all ended up, near enough Lira millionaires.

This afternoon I walked to the station and went to Valparaiso, the local big city. On the way there I saw pelicans. Valparaiso itself is built on hills so has lots of funicular lifts to get you up and down the slopes which is quite fun. There were some good murals on the walls in one part of the town but other than that, perhaps Valparaiso guards its charm carefully!
Pelicans  - the rock colours show what pelicans do!

Concepcion ascensor - the first of the funiculars and originally powered by steam.

The view across town

The first of several murals in the Concepcion districut

I thought these painted steps were fun as well

I'm pleased to see the hotel has both tsunami and earthquake safety advice - don't use the lifts in either case, if there's an earthquake stay away from the windows, if there's a tsunami get as high as you can. Jose picks me up tomorrow at 11. Before then it's an early night to catch up on some sleep but also I need to finish writing a talk for Alexander's MSc students. As long as the barrel organ player on the plaza below my window stops playing before I want to go to sleep all should be fine.

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